[box cover]

The Hurricane: Collector's Edition

The Hurricane was designed to be an Oscar winner, and although Denzel Washington didn't garner an Acadmey Award, he did get the top award at the Berlin Film Festival, as well as a Golden Globe and and an NAACP Image Award, and director Norman Jewison and the screenwriters took some awards from various prize giving bodies as well. The Hurricane isn't the worst film to strive solely for Oscars, but it it doesn't have a whole lot else to recommend it. As a boxing film, it falls far short of Raging Bull, and as a tale of racial tensions, it doesn't have the in-your-face unpredictableness of a Spike Lee joint. Jewison's movie has a noble mission, and he highlights some legitimately good performances, but at times the film chokes on its humble honesty. And what's worse, the most interesting part of the film — the story within the story of boxer Rubin "Hurricane" Carter's unjust incarceration in which a group of white Canadians (Deborah Kara Unger, John Hannah, and Liev Schreiber) take on his cause — should really have been the main story. After all, Carter's career and life are well known, but the story of the people who got him out of prison isn't. Carter was a New Jersey-bred boxer who was on the championship track (and robbed of one decision for the title, the movie maintains) who was arrested and convicted for murder in the early 1960s, primarily due to the obsession of a cop (Dan Hedaya). From prison, Carter wrote an autobiography that drew attention to his case in the '70s. That's when Bob Dylan wrote his famous song and Ellen Burstyn spoke at rallies on Carter's behalf. Unfortunately, these activities had little impact on Carter's freedom. The Canadian group becomes the only lifeline Carter has, the only people still interested in him. Their diligence in the face of police harassment and other frustrations, and their original detective work, finally succeeds where more-public supporters failed. Released nationally in January of 2000, the $38 million Hurricane made about $50 million in the U. S., but was prestigious enough to earn several award nods, and Universal's DVD release respects the importance of the subject as a Collector's Edition. The transfer is excellent, and Roger Deakins' superb cinematography is honored with a sharp and, when appropriate, dark image. This is a chatty film, and so an elaborate audio isn't excessively needed, but it's good that the dialogue is clear. Norman Jewison provides the commentary track, which is fine to hear once, but he doesn't say anything so memorable that a press release couldn't have said more economically. He also introduces five deleted scenes, where he is much more passionate. There's also a 20-minute "making-of" doc where the viewer gets to see and hear Carter himself. Good anamorphic transfer (1.85:1), DD 5.1. Keep case.
—D.K. Holm

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